Some of BMW’s latest efforts have caused a major uproar in the enthusiast community. For instance, for the first time ever, BMW will be producing a front-wheel drive model when several years ago, they proudly said that front-wheel drive was work of Satan. And unfortunately in this bit of BMW news, BMW may once again be breaking tradition.
The Munich brand has a rumor going around saying that not only will possibly BMW offer all-wheel drive for its latest Autobahn and Nurburgring stormer, but the M5 may also come with…wait for it…a diesel. And you may be thinking, much like us: WHAT ARE THEY DOING?!
The rumor is supposedly sourced from an official document that pertains to a model designated the M550dX. How would one think the new M5 may come in a diesel and with all-wheel drive? Well, let’s break down the nomenclature. The letter M—which some would say is the most powerful letter in the alphabet—obviously signifies BMW’s in-house M-Division. The 550 tells us it’s a 5-Series with a 5.0L or similar displaced engine, the “d” stands for diesel and the “X” stands for BMW’s X-wheel-drive AWD system.
We say this is quite a bit sacrilegious because the M5 was always its own car and never had any variations. But then again, there could be some confusion with the way the nomenclature was interpreted because BMW has had cars in the past that could’ve been considered variations of the M5.
For instance, the first ever M5 was called the M535i back during the days of the E12 first generation 5-Series, but it wasn’t called an M5 at the time. It featured a beefed up suspension, brakes and steering, unique interior and exterior appointments and the largest and most powerful version of BMW’s M30 straight-six—which was also the starting point for the M88 and S38 engines that found their way into cars like the original E24 635CSi/M6 and the second and third generation E28/E34 M5s. Speaking of which, the 635CSi was too a precursor to the original M6 so it followed the same nomenclature as the M535i.
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The M535i continued through the E28 generation and conceptually, was a variation of the M5. It featured nearly all of the same kit as the E28 M5 including the suspension, steering, wheels, brakes and such except with the M30 straight-six versus the full-out M-tuned M88/S38 engine that the M5 received.
The same concept continued all the way up to the last generation E60 5-Series where only one virtual “M5 variant” was offered. It started off with the third generation E34 5-Series. While the E34 M5 had the same S38 straight-six as the previous generation E28 M5, an 540i M-Sport (also known as M-Technik 540i, or M540i Sport) was produced in very limited numbers, only 32 to be exact. The 540i M-Sport was essentially an E34 M5, except with the 540i’s M60 4.0L V8 that produced 282hp and it only came with a manual transmission. It featured all of the same tunings and upgrades as the M5, just with a different engine. The same occurred for the fourth generation E39 M5 where after the mid-cycle refresh in 2001. An M540i Sport was offered featuring nearly all of the same kit as the E39 M5, but had a choice of a manual or an automatic, featured the standard 540i’s 290hp 4.4L V8 and came with BMW’s 18-inch M-parallel five spoke wheels, the same found on the E38 7-Series Sport-equipped cars, rather than the M5’s 18-inch multi-spoke wheels.
The same occurred for the last generation E60 5-Series where they were called the 545i/550i M-Technik Sport. The M-Techniks however were further differentiated from the M5 because they didn’t come with an option for the 7-speed SMG cog swapper, had different wheels and wasn’t offered with M-Drive Select dynamic systems.
So despite the rumor, the “M5 variants” really shouldn’t be a surprise because BMW in the past, more or less, has offered variants of the M5 (all of this talk about old BMWs makes me miss those glory days). But because manufacturers are shifting their priority to participate in the race to top the sales charts, BMW’s expansion of the M5 lineup may be more obvious than previous versions. So it still is a break in tradition.
Refresher: The 2012 BMW M5 is powered by a 4.4L V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo (consisting of Twin Scroll Twin Turbo Technology) making 560-hp between 6,000 and 7,000 rpm with a maximum torque of 502 lb-ft from 1,500 rpm. Mated to a 7-speed M Double Clutch Transmission Drivelogic (with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters), the 2012 BMW M5 goes from 0 to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds, 0 to 124 mph in 13 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph or 190 mph with M Driver’s Package.
– By: Chris Chin